This story aired in June of 2008 on ESPN's Sports Center. I saw the story then and it really touched me. When i heard yesterday that John had passed I felt driven to help share his life and motivational messages with others. This article is his story...
When John Challis, a devout sports fan for his 18 year life, found out he was going to die, he knew that he would have a whole new outlook on life. Two years ago a doctor told him that he had a 10 pound cancerous tumor in his stomach, which was about the size of a football. After 18 months of dealing with cancer, John entered his senior year at Freedom High School in western Pennsylvania, and as part of having cancer, his outlook on fear took a drastic U-turn. Previously, John's fear of being hit by the pitch drove him from the sport that he loved, baseball. After being diagnosed, he thought of being hit by the ball, compared to cancer, as something ridiculous to be afraid of. He said "Sports, that was my love...still is but in a different way."
On April 11th 2008 John Challis took an opportunity to conquer his fear. His "different way" of playing baseball wasn't any different except for the flapjack that he wore to protect his ribs. But stepping up to that plate again helped him prove to himself that he could hit the ball and conquer his fear. In the 4th inning of the game at Freedom High School John Challis was called up to pinch hit. As the 93 pound young man, was walking to the plate, he looked at the catcher's mask which had the number 11, John's number, written on it along with the initials J.C. John saw it,chuckled and said "nice mask." All he wanted to do was for people to pray for him. He didn't want anybody feel sorry for him. He hit the first pitch, a fastball, that was thrown in the strike zone and drilled it between first and second and went into the outfield for a single. Halfway down the baseline he was yelling, I Did It! I Did It! He was 1 for 1 in his baseball career, batting 1.000 with 1 RBI.
Under his hat that day John wrote the following... John Challis #11 Courage + Believe = Life. It became his motto, and also touched the lives of people he has never met all across the nation. His message lives on, and will inspire many more in addition to the millions he has already touched. He taught his sister, Lexie Challis, to "live today's life, and live to the fullest today." It is through his quotes and messages like these that we will return to his story and look upon it again and again for advice, and remember the life of a very inspirational young man.
John Challis passed on Tuesday August 19th 2008 at his home in Pennsylvania.
To see the Sports Center coverage of the John Challis story visit the above link.